Is the IPL Season Under Threat Following India’s COVID-19 Surge?

Matthew Cotter

With cases and deaths of COVID-19 in India soaring to unprecedented heights, questions arise surrounding the appropriateness of the continuation of the IPL season.

It was announced earlier this week that Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and Australian trio Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, and Kane Richardson would be withdrawing from the tournament amidst the harrowing situation in India’s major cities. Additionally, the Australian Cricket Association have commented that many of their players currently in India are beginning to feel anxious with the Australian government banning flights between the two nations until at least 15th May.

Australian and Kolkata Knight Riders fast bowler Pat Cummins…donated $50,000 to assist with the effort

The players that remain confined in the secure bubble have been told that they are ‘playing for humanity’, as they look to provide a release for those struggling with the pandemic. Some have decided to lend a hand in the fight against Covid-19 such as Australian and Kolkata Knight Riders fast bowler Pat Cummins who earlier this week donated $50,000 to assist with the effort.

However, criticism over the continuation of the tournament has begun to emerge this week. Some are beginning to question the appropriateness of the tournament at this current time whilst others are directly calling out the BCCI for their insensitive and ‘grotesque’ approach to the situation.

Covid-19 in India has become unmanageable. On Thursday, it was announced that over 350,000 new cases and 3,500 deaths had been reported within a 24 hour period. However, with Covid-19 having a devastating effect on India’s most deprived areas, it can be expected that these are conservative figures.

But is Cricket partially to blame for this dramatic hike in cases? Perhaps.

Earlier this year, India hosted England for a series composing of four Test Matches, three One Day Internationals, and five T20s. In each of the first two T20s, over 65,000 fans were in attendance at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. However, for the remaining fixtures of the tour fans were barred from attending due to concerns over the rising cases of Covid-19.

This was in March. Now in late April, we are beginning to see the consequences of the relaxation of social interaction in a nation where only 9% of the population are vaccinated.

One senior BCCI official even said that the tournament is helping the nation’s problems

Despite all of this, the BCCI, India’s Cricketing board, have made no plans to cancel, or even pause, the tournament. One senior BCCI official even said that the tournament is helping the nation’s problems. They said: ‘At least fans are absorbed in it at home. Otherwise, many of them will step out without masks. The league generates considerable money for the economy. It has to be seen from that context, too. How does stopping IPL help?’

Once again it would seem that profit is being placed above the safety and wellbeing of the peoples of a nation. With cases and deaths expected to keep rising, what is the BCCI’s price for calling quits early this year? It is evident that the venues and resources currently occupied by the IPL could be put to good use by assisting the recovery effort.

Matthew Cotter

Featured image used courtesy of williacw via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image use license here.

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